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Best Building, 2011: Proxy by Envelope A+D

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By far the best thing that's gone up here in 2011, Envelope A+D's Proxy project in Hayes Valley takes the concept of adaptive reuse down to its bare nubbins, transforming the empty lots along Octavia Boulevard with some gravel, a few shipping containers and a pair (so far) of highly designed but ad hoc structures- along with coffee, beer and ice cream. In San Francisco, if you feed them they will come. As built, not as ambitious as the firm's first renderings, but hard-knuckled and gritty in the best sense, with a planned life expectancy of five years. To which we might add that Maybecks' iconic Palace of Fine Arts was temporary in 1915. Our sister-site Eater SF covered Proxy as it developed: Tenants now include Ritual Coffee, Smitten Ice Cream, a biergarten in the capable hands of Hayes Valley's Teutonic standby, Suppenküchen, plus a changing menu of food trucks and Avedano's Meat Wagon, a converted vintage ambulance that serves as the artisan butcher's Hayes Valley outpost. Urban Renewal gone Pop-Up.
In some ways, Proxy is the result of intransigent NIMBYism. In the 1960's, a plan to extend the the Central Freeway across the north side of Golden Gate Park (officially, The Panhandle Freeway) was stopped dead in its tracks by Sue Bierman and others. In in 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake rendered the elevated freeway segment over Market and Octavia streets unsafe and demolition began in 1996. After a few more years of hot NIMBY debate, we have the Octavia Corridor you see today. Amazing what a little sunlight and a few shrubs will do. But since no one can agree what should happen to the narrow empty lots on the east side- but no one wants empty lots- we have Envelope A+D's hard-edged but hip food court. Kudos to Douglas Burnham and Envelope A+D- and to everyone who made this happen.

Curbed SF's Best Building, 2010: Five Ton Crane's Raygun Gothic Rocketship.
· Proxy Project [Envelope A+D]
· Proxy Construction/Fabrication [Envelope A+D on Flickr]
· Proxy Project Coverage [Eater SF Archives]
· Meat Wagon [Avedano's]

Proxy SF

432 Octavia Boulevard, San Francisco, CA